Relief for O'Brien as Ryder reaches maiden test ton

Jesse Ryder confessed to "sweating bullets" when test cricket's archetypal tailender Chris Martin was applauded to the middle of Seddon Park yesterday.

If he had access to actual ammunition there is little doubt Ryder would have aimed it towards Iain O'Brien after his wander down the pitch to Harbhajan Singh caused unnecessary angst.

O'Brien was easily stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Ryder stood disbelieving on 98 at the non-striker's end.

It was a foolish dismissal that had Ryder swinging his bat in dismay -- and Martin meandering towards him as a dubious ally.

The personable 34-year-old fast bowler would not be an automatic choice as the batsman most likely to survive five balls from one of the world's greatest spinners.

Martin's batting is lampooned on a regular basis, no surprise since he averages a princely 2.17 after 65 test innings.

But Martin at least got bat, or pad, or nothing to ball as a jovial Indian field surrounded him and Ryder perspired.

Martin somehow saw out the over, Ryder duly smacked Ishant Sharma for four and the relief was palpable -- especially in the New Zealand dressing room.

O'Brien was sporting enough to describe his indiscretion as the "dumbest thing I've ever done in cricket" when he made his latest blogspot entry.

O'Brien survived Munaf Patel's hat-trick ball after Daniel Vettori (118) and Kyle Mills fell in consecutive deliveries but when he was on eight he got ahead of himself.

"I was trying my hardest to not get out," he wrote.

"Runs didn't matter, it was about getting Jesse through to his ton, and I couldn't do it, in fact I did about the dumbest thing I've ever done on a cricket field.

"I walked past one from Harbhajan, my foot got stuck and I couldn't make it back to my crease.

"I felt so sick heading back to the changing room knowing that I had made such a bad mistake, I felt like throwing up while watching Tommy (Martin) face out the five balls left in the over.

"I still feel bad about it now, but there is one positive side, Jesse made it and Tommy saved me from one of the worst feelings in the game."

After falling short on 91 in Bangladesh last October and then making 89 against the West Indies in Dunedin two months later, Ryder was understandably relieved Martin made his 15th 0 not out in 46 tests.

"When the tail came I didn't want to throw it away. I backed them to see me through and they did," he said, somewhat unconvincingly.

NZPA

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